I am very much a one trick pony. My trick, however, is not making preschool shows. My trick is living in very close proximity to all the things that terrify me. And many things terrify me: running a company, making shows, relationships, even writing a blog. So, like a cat who must get used to the new dog in the house, I just accept the proximity of teeth.
For personal and professional reasons, I have done a lot of soul searching this month. I have asked myself some hard questions about the work I do and the life I lead. And, like many of you, I have been looking towards 2010 with a cocktail of feelings that include excitement, fear and dread.
But this week I have gathered my thoughts and settled on a new direction that I can both live and work with. I share it with you because I feel that in many ways my situation is a reflection of what our industry as a whole is going through: A profound shift away from solid ground and towards a dance floor made of swamp grass and thinning ice.
Here is my conclusion: This is a great time in our industry.
I’ll tell you why. Since all the old models are collapsing, so are all the old obstacles. For most of us, this is good news. The old models were elitist, expensive and required living and working in close proximity to power. But now the people are in charge. If you have internet, know Photoshop, Flash, or iMovie, you are in business. There hasn’t been such a migration of power away from the elites and towards the unwashed masses since the French Revolution. So whether you run an indie, a network or a website, we are all in the same boat now. Welcome aboard. Lifejackets are limited. There is no catering. And you will be expected to row.
To survive, we must all become resourceful, creative and bold. We must embrace the unknown. This is the voyage to the new world. This is the Berlin Wall of digital content. Will you be celebrating when it comes down or will it fall on your head?
Which brings me back to fear. I would put it to you the same way I have put it to myself: Since everything familiar and safe is crumbling anyway, why not use this time to make the work you have always wanted to make? Why not finally face whatever it is you have been running from all of these years?
For some of you this will mean writing your book, pitching your love project, or starting your own company. You fill in the blank. I believe that those of us who step up and confront our demons will be rewarded. Why? Because one needs every fiber of one’s being to make this kind of work. And when humans do that, other humans tend to respond.
I have said it before: I believe that fear is a compass. It points us towards the thing that we want the most. (If we did not want it, we would not fear it. We’d simply ignore it.) As the great poet Rainer Maria Rilke said, “Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave.”
So, have faith. Stay strong. Make the work that you were put on this earth to make. Is there a chance it could fail? Of course. Will you survive if that happens? Of course. But do not be frightened by the teeth. They are only there to remind you of what you know you should be doing anyway.
I send you all love and I wish you all courage.
Despite appearances, we are all in this together.